There will be no grandstanding or Churchillian speeches, writes James Shield.
Instead, when he addresses Sheffield United’s players for the final time before tomorrow’s League One opener against Bristol City at Bramall Lane, Nigel Clough will keep things short, sharp and simple. Go straight to the point.
“I haven’t thought of what I’ll say,” he told The Star. “I don’t do big speeches anyway. I don’t think the players’ attention span is right at that time.
“They’re too busy doing their own preparations and quite rightly so.
“Anyway, we’ve been talking all summer about what we want them to do. If they don’t get it over five weeks then they aren’t going to pick much up in five minutes are they.”
“We’ve seen glimpses of what we want,” Clough added. “During the Huddersfield, Fenerbahce and Dundee friendlies.
“We want that start we had against Huddersfield, where we got six or seven crosses into the box in the first 10 minutes and all of them were goalscoring opportunities.”
Clough, the United manager, cautioned against reading too much into the outcome of his team’s meeting with City during Wednesday’s pre-match media briefing. Reflecting on the fact that Norwich City were beaten 7-1 by Colchester at this stage of the campaign five years ago, only to eventually finish nine points clear at the top of the table, he nevertheless conceded United’s players will enter the contest determined to issue a statement of intent after being installed as the early favourites to lift the title.
“On the first day players will be nervous,” Clough said. “The fans look forward to it a lot more whereas we look at periods and how we get through them.
“You don’t want an awful start and a great one would be fine but, so long as you are in the mix after 10 games or so, then it’s okay.
“You can get some funny results on the first day. What happens then rarely has any resemblance about what will happen over the next nine months and it’s almost like a separate fixture.”
United expect Craig Alcock, Stefan Scougall, Bob Harris and Jose Baxter to feature despite missing training earlier this week but James Wallace is doubtful as he continues to nurse a groin complaint.
Karleigh Osborne could miss-out for City due to a gashed shin sustained against Extension Gunners of the Botswana Premier League.